CoA says High Court had limited powers to set aside BURS’s tax re-assessment of Prevailing Securities
The Court of Appeal(CoA) has upheld a decision of the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) to slap Prevailing Securities with a tax bill of over P72 million.
In a judgement released last Friday, a panel of three CoA judges, Isaac Lesetedi, Fritz Brand and Lot Moroka, overturned High Court Judge Michael Leburu’s ruling that BURS was irrational and unreasonable to slap the security company with the tax bill.
Justice Leburu was of the view has concluded that BURS had acted in bad faith by imposing a re-assessment and penalties solely on the basis of bank statements of the company.
Reversing the judgement, the CoA said that the High Court had limited powers to set aside the re-assessment. The ruling advised that the Board of Adjudicators, which is independent and appointed by the Minister of Finance, is the competent authority for dealing with tax assessment appeals.
BURS investigations had discovered that P72,420,714.39 was deposited into Prevailing Security (Pty) Ltd bank accounts between 2013 and 2018. Also in question was the turnover declared by the company over the same period for Value Added Tax pegged at P19,600,974.00 and turnover declared by the company directors for income tax as P34,822,056.00.
Following Justice Leburu’s judgement, BURS filed for appeal, arguing that the High Court had ignored evidence which indicated that the company had received more income than what it declared to BURS in submitted returns.
BURS’s lawyer Kealeboga Tshane said the appeal ought to succeed because the investigation by BURS had clearly shown that the company did not declare all the income deposited into its bank accounts for the years 2013 to 2018, subsequently arriving at an understated taxable income.
In its defence, Prevailing Securities had submitted that BURS had erred in the company’s tax assessment by interpreting deposits made into Prevailing Securities’ bank accounts as income.
Prevailing Securities is owned by entrepreneur and pastor Shadrack Baaitse. The company’s business activities include provision of security guard services, installation of closed circuit television and cash-in-transit services. Baaitse is an associate of former president Ian Khama.